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Entries in Best Actor (105)

Monday
Oct272014

Does Eddie Redmayne in "Theory of Everything" = Daniel Day Lewis in "My Left Foot"?

A consistent yet elusive golden thrill: that moment in each year's Oscar race wherein everyone disagrees on who and what is the frontrunner in this or that category.

There are a few different schools of thought out there about who might win Best Actor. I have always believed and probably will continue to believe that the race for Oscar nominations is a very different and altogether more interesting contest than who will eventually win them. Because of this I like to focus on that before I get to "who will win" but I'll make an exception today for fun. Most experts (see this handy Gurus of Gold chart) currently name Michael Keaton (Birdman), Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything) and Benedict Cumberbatch (The Imitation Game) as the leading threats to win the statue. I agree wholeheartedly with this and actually believe that they're the only three who could pull off a win in this particular year (unless American Sniper is some sort of late breaking Oscar stampeding Million Dollar Baby for Bradley Cooper... but I personally doubt it). Who will fill the other two 'not-in-it-for-the-win' slots is anyone's guess. I've returned again to the unpopular notion that Channing Tatum and Steve Carell will both win Best Actor nominations for Foxcatcher but I've mostly done so under the file labeled "Why Not? Who knows?" The competition for those two final slots is where the action is right now and there are about twelve guys who, with the right combo of precursor support, smart campaign moves, media approval, film heat coattails, and/or old fashioned luck could still pull it off. Any of the 12 who aren't out there fighting for it are, frankly, crazy.

Eddie at an AMPAS screening of THEORY OF EVERYTHINGBut, jumping ahead... who will win? 

On twitter today I was briefly discussing this with Kris & Jenelle and found them both sympathetic to my notion that Redmayne has a rather underdiscussed but considerable advantage in that he is enormously charming in person. When races are tight, charm counts for a lot. I've seen him in public thrice, met him once, and this charm is highly visible. What's more his charm never tilts toward cockiness but toward genuine-feeling humility. That's quite a trick if you stop to think about how actors build successful careers...

Click to read more ...

Thursday
Oct232014

Gotham Nominees: Boyhood vs. Birdman vs. Budapest

The Gotham Awards juried nominations have recently surplanted the ancient NBR as the first real awards nomination/wins of the film year. That it happens in October is more than a little crazy, but what'cha gonna do? The New York centric film prizes, think of it as the Spirit Awards's East Coast Cousin albeit with far fewer prizes will be held on December 1st. Since they only have six categories and four separate juries (composed of critics and programmers), multiple nods aren't as easy to come by as they are at other shows but a handful of films managed it: Boyhood, Birdman, Dear White People, Nightcrawler, and Under the Skin.

BEST FEATURE 

 

  • BIRDMAN
  • BOYHOOD
  • GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL
  • LOVE IS STRANGE
  • UNDER THE SKIN

Very happy to see the intensely moving Love is Strange, in constant danger of being undervalued, show up. Especially since it didn't show up anywhere else. 199 films were eligible for these honors.

BEST ACTRESS (they don't have lead or supporting designations)

Big year for GUGU with Belle as breakthrough and a nom for Beyond the Lights

  • PATRICIA ARQUETTE, Boyhood
  • SCARLETT JOHANSSON, Under the Skin
  • GUGU MBATHA-RAW, Beyond the Lights
  • JULIANNE MOORE, Still Alice
  • MIA WASIKOWSKA, Tracks

Given that Still Alice is only getting a qualifying Oscar run and there's no proof that it will even play in NYC by the end of the year (LA is the only required theatrical run) I think it's weird to nominate Julianne Moore at the Gothams, however excellent she is in the picture. I wonder what criteria they use for eligibility?

BEST ACTOR (they don't have lead or supporting designations)

 

  • BILL HADER, The Skeleton Twins
  • ETHAN HAWKE, Boyhood
  • OSCAR ISAAC, A Most Violent Year
  • MICHAEL KEATON, Birdman
  • MILES TELLER, Whiplash

Interesting to see Oscar Isaac show up but not Jessica Chastain when the same nominating committee chose for both categories. 

BREAKTHROUGH ACTOR OR ACTRESS

 

  • RIZ AHMED, Nightcrawler
  • MACON BLAIR, Blue Ruin
  • ELLAR COLTRANE, Boyhood
  • JOEY KING, Wish I Was Here
  • JENNY SLATE, Obvious Child
  • TESSA THOMPSON, Dear White People

Slightly odd choices by the breakthrough committee. I love Boyhood and Nightcrawler but it seems weird to single out Coltrane or Ahmed from either, not only because they aren't the MVPs but because their performances just aren't at the same accomplished level as their co-stars. 

BREAKTHROUGH DIRECTOR

 

  • ANA LILY AMIRPOUR, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
  • JAMES WARD BYRKIT, Coherence
  • DAN GILROY, Nightcrawler
  • ELIZA HITTMAN, It Felt Like Love
  • JUSTIN SIMIEN, Dear White People

BEST DOCUMENTARY

  • ACTRESS
  • CITIZENFOUR
  • LIFE ITSELF
  • MANAKAMANA
  • POINT AND SHOOT 

I haven't yet seen Life Itself (I know I know) but I increasingly suspect, based on everything I've read about it, that hero worship is really getting in the way. It's not that I don't appreciate Ebert's work or that I don't understand the need to honor him for a special life in this very specialized field. But as with Oscars view of documentary, sometimes subject matter trumps execution in terms of awardage. Critics complain when that happens. Except when it happens to a movie about a film critic ;) I reserve the right to change my mind and consider it very worthy if I see it but I just wanted to point out that this is always a real danger in awardage for all groups, not just Oscar, the effect of subject matter trumping execution. 

Tuesday
Oct212014

Lunchtime Poll: Multiple Acting Oscars

I was all prepared to list the most Oscar winning Actors for a quickie top ten list. Until I remembered there were only six with 3 or more Oscars (for acting)

Four Leading Oscars
01 Katharine Hepburn
Three Leading Oscars
02 Daniel Day-Lewis
Three Oscars (Lead/Supporting Mix)
[Three-Way Tie]
03 Ingrid Bergman
03 Meryl Streep
03 Jack Nicholson
Three Oscars (Supporting)
06 Walter Brennan

YOUR TASK: Make it a top ten by filling slots seven through ten. Name the four actors who most deserve to join them as three-timers or the ones who seem most likely?

Saturday
Oct182014

Links: Monty, Misty, Michael, More...

Gurus of Gold The new charts. Yes, I need to update the Oscar charts. I'll get started tomorrow!
The Black Maria for his 94th birthday - "Montgomery Clift: The Lost Poet of Omaha"
Serpentine Magazine Pretty Boys & Pathos: The Men of Classic Hollywood
To Be Continued Keith Uhlich on the single takes in American Horror Story, Birdman and Gone Girl
Guardian Scarlett Johansson to star in a live action remake of animated classic Ghost in the Shell 
In Contention let's give Michael Keaton the Oscar

LAFCA will honor Gena Rowlands with their career achievement award this January
CHUD has very mixed feelings on The Book of Life but h-a-t-e-s the soundtrack
The Wrap Actress Misty Upham (Frozen River, August: Osage County) found dead. Initial reports suggest suicide but...
Juliette Lewis (and others who knew her) don't fully believe it and are demanding an investigation
Words & Film thinks St. Vincent is being misrepresented with that dismissive "weepie" brush. But what's wrong with a weepie? 
Deadline Black and White with Kevin Costner & Octavia Spencer to get an Oscar qualifying run
Zap 2 It has a cool feature on three of the freak in American Horror Story: Freakshow 
NPR on Dear White People 

Just 4 Fun
Pointer Pointer another perfect internet time waster
Vulture Anne Rice, Amazon Reviewer 

 

Thursday
Sep252014

Birdman Starts Campaigning Early

Anne Marie reporting from Los Angeles...

Will Keaton need the tux regularly this season? We think soThe starter's gun for awards season campaigning has unofficially gone off, signalling the beginning of the most exciting/frustrating few months in an Oscar-lover's heart. Sandwiched between the mad dash of TIFF and NYFF on the East Coast was a screening and reception on Tuesday for Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu's Birdman. As a courtyard full of film critics tried to absorb everything the ambitious black comedy presented them, producer John Lesher and star Michael Keaton were there to answer questions and talk over Iñarritu's dizzying vision.

In the coming weeks, we'll undoubtedly hear many comparisons between Michael Keaton and Riggan, the washed up superhero has-been Keaton portrays. Michael Keaton is not nearly as attention-grabbing (or off ghis rocker) as his onscreen doppelganger. Instead, he walked through the crowd quietly, speaking to members of the press one on one or in small groups (graciously fielding questions on baseball and Batman), rather than holding court.

Unfortunately, this meant we didn't all get to speak to him, but he did deliver one appropriately weird closing moment. On his way to the parking lot, Keaton gave a loud Birdman squawk. Then he vanished into the night.

The Birdman cast having fun in Venice earlier this month

Tuesday
Sep232014

Retro Quickie: Cinderella Liberty (1973)

File Under: I have had this Netflix disc out for so long and it really has to be returned to unclog my queue. -Nathaniel

You got a terrific knack for being nice and a prick all at the same time.

Have any of you ever seen Cinderella Liberty? Back when we were doing our 1973 celebration, I rented it since it was the sole Best Actress nomination I hadn't seen from that year. Marsha Mason plays a prostitute with a heart of... well, not gold exactly. But she's got one. She's raising Doug, her biracial teenager (Kirk Calloway nominated for Best Newcomer at the Golden Globes) on her own but she's doing a pretty shit job of it. Enter: James Caan, fresh off the double whammy star-making years of Brian's Song (1971) and The Godfather (1972), as a sailor named John Baggs Jr. who hooks up with her. In actuality it's Baggs' story and Maggie is missing for good stretches of the movie. Seemingly on a whim, this goodhearted sailor decides to stick around and decides to fall in love with her. That's the one thing that's most clear and most enigmatic about the movie. 

I found it a fascinating watch primarily because, though Mason is just fine as a moody blowsy hooker who can't manage her life towards something better, it was Caan's masculine reserve and softly shaded performance that drew me in...

Click to read more ...

Wednesday
Sep172014

157 days 'til Oscar

We're still five months and a few days away from Oscar night so is it possible that things are starting to lock up? Ehhhh yes but mostly no. Every year all over the web casual movie fans and awards nuts like to start shouting LOCK as early as May for various things (usually centered around something becoming a massive hit or winning something at Cannes). But that's not really how it works. So here we are in September. A lot can happen in the last three and a half months of the calendar year leading up to the nominations. We've still got a long way to go and, conceivably, brilliant or lazy campaigns and smart or clumsy moves and release date shifts can still change everything... even if things are looking terribly good or just dismal for whomever or whatever. While I don't technically like to call anything or anyone a lock before it's actually opened (and thus eligible) the closest thing we have within the four acting categories are two, both in lead races: Reese Witherspoon (Wild) and Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything). They have all the ingredients you could want in a lead push -- the right release dates, the right kinds of roles with the right kinds of hooks, the right level of quality in the actual acting, the right early critical response, the right time in their careers, and a release strategy already carefully mapped out by the right studio. 

There are other "likely!" contenders at the moment of course (Still Julianne, holla / Imitation of Benedict: The People's Choice) but I'd argue that Reese & Eddie are the closest to securing nominations.

And I'd argue that the Supporting Actress category is the most volatile where no one is particularly close It's easy to imagine my current predicted lineup being exactly right but it's almost as easy to imagine not one of the five of them making it if the films that still haven't screened or those that could yet gather more power or lose it, happen to shake up this category. Nobody is remotely safe yet. People like to claim that Patricia Arquette is a done deal for Boyhood and though I hope so I don't think so. We're still four months from nominations and pictures praised for being directorial visions are often where you end up with weird blindspots when it comes to the acting branch. 

MAJOR UPDATES, MOVEMENT, NEW PLAYERS ON ALL FOUR ACTING CHARTS

ALSO UPDATED

Who or what do you think locks up next?